Article Date: 12/1/2000

I've learned a lot in the last 25 years practicing low vision, but one aspect of helping patients see better with visual aids stands out the most. In fact, it's a tip that's both helpful to patients and doctors alike.

What I've found to be the most successful way to help low vision patients see better is to dispense all low vision aids in patients' homes. The reason is so that the low vision tech can evaluate the patient's lighting and posture and best assist him in using the aid in his own environment.

We've been doing this exclusively for the last 6 years -- even with simple handheld aids. We have a number of occupational therapists and low vision techs on our staff who perform this service. If the patient requires low vision therapy, we try to have the actual therapist who will provide the therapy do the dispensing. If not, then we assign a therapist for the sole purpose of dispensing.

The average home visit is probably about 1 hour. However, it may take a little longer for the more complicated low vision aids and a little less for some of the simpler magnifiers. We don't charge extra for the service, but in the long run, it saves me a great deal of chair time and improves patient function, success and satisfaction. It's also increased the number of direct referrals we've received from patients and decreased the number of patients who return to the office asking why they could see so well with the aid in the office, but not in their homes.

You may want to try this method, as well, for helping your low vision patients see better the first time around.

Optometric Management, Issue: December 2000